If you’re old enough you may remember Dodgy in the 90s with their happy, summery hits such as Staying Out For The Summer, (I’ll never forget the video with them in a flying VW campervan) In A Room, If You’re Thinking Of Me (all Top 40 singles) and the Top 5 hit Good Enough that fitted in perfectly with the Britpop era. Dodgy were together less than ten years but their record sales exceeded a million at the time. They were given a Saturday evening slot on the Pyramid stage at Glastonbury Festival in 1997 just before Radiohead.
No mean feat. Their earlier albums included The Dodgy Album, (their debut album being produced by the Lightning Seeds Ian Broudie), Homegrown, and the best-selling album Free Peace Sweet. In 2012 came their comeback album Stand Upright In A Cool Place (the name coming from the warning on a bottle of bleach!) which received rave reviews. Since its release the band have toured extensively at gigs being especially popular at festivals.
What Are We Fighting For’ is the fifth album from the original Dodgy line-up – Nigel Clark, Mathew Priest and Andy Miller. It is also the first album to feature relatively new member Stu Thoy on bass. Cherry Red signed them after hearing their music. Fans of Ultrasound will be pleased that Vanessa Wilson features on four of the tracks. The album is influenced by 60s psychedelic bands like Can, Harmonium, The Pretty Things and Captain Beefheart and a new found love of bands like Atlas Sound and White Fence. Cenzo Townshend (Florence, U2, Primal Scream etc) who worked with Dodgy on their first record, heard the demos and demanded to mix some tracks.
It kicks off with the high-energy guitar-fuelled You Give Drugs a Bad Name. This is a strapping song with a Stone Roses vibe (The video is very 60s/70s inspired). It has lots of crunchy guitars and it’s good to hear the dulcet tones of Nigel Clark (with as mentioned before Vanessa Johnson providing backing vocals and the refrain “Got a feeling we’re not in Camden any more”. This is fresh and vibrant. Now Means Nothing at All has a vibe to it reminiscent of the Who (I Can See For Miles and Miles). It’s guitar and vocal driven with a great 60s beat. California Gold is the single off the album, a country and folk-tinged affair with a dreamy Neil Young feel to it. Eclectic. Is This Goodbye has a 60s West Coast sound that brings to mind the Byrds/Crosby Stills and Nash.
Lyrically The Hills is Dodgy’s homage to England’s hills (Dorset and the Pennines are referenced). This is poignant and moving. Mended Heart has more of that country-tinged/West Coast CSN feel and Where I Shall Begin is rich and melodious with some driving harmonies and harmonica. What Are We Fighting For has heartfelt, profound lyrics and a piano driven sound with more of Johnson’s vocals that complement the song well. The song ends the album on a poignant note.
Dodgy are back and here to stay! Some bands as they mature seem to keep churning out the same stuff but Dodgy gain more gravity and vigour the more they produce. Whilst not as instantly catchy as their earlier stuff (they are older and more reflective) this is a rich album with a blend of crunchy guitar tracks and then some mellow 60s West Coast/folky moments very reminiscent of the Byrds.